Adela paludicolella, Heraklion- photo © K. Bormpoudaki

Adela paludicolella, Heraklion- photo © K. Bormpoudaki

The Family Noctuidae (Owlet Moths, Miller Moths)

The Family Noctuidae

The family Noctuidae (Owlet moths, Cutworms, or Aarmyworms), is a cosmopolitan family of moths that can be found worldwide except in the Antarctic region. The Noctuids are members of the Superfamily Noctuoidea and are the largest family in the Lepidoptera with approximately 20,000 species worldwide.

Most moths are gray to brown colored but some species are brightly colored. They are small to large in size, and the majority are medium-sized with wingspans 2 – 4.5 cm and have lines or spots on their wings.  Noctuids are typically nocturnal, though some species are diurnal. When at rest, adults of most species hold their wings above their bodies like a roof. Most noctuid moths produce pheromones that attract the opposite gender.

Members of Noctuidae, perform an important role in plant pollination. Many species of owlet moths are also notorious pests around the world. Their larvae are typically known as “cutworms" or “armyworms" due to enormous swarms that destroy crops, orchards, and gardens every year.

Caterpillars are commonly green or brown; however, some species present bright colors. Most are pudgy and smooth with rounded short heads and few setae, but there are some exceptions in some subfamilies. Noctuids can most easily be confused with the Erebidae and Geometridae. All three families include caterpillars that can be classified as loopers, with varying degrees of proleg loss and reduction. Looper caterpillars in the Noctuidae are commonly called ‘semi-loopers’ to differentiate them from geometrids

Eggs vary in colors, but all have a spherical shape. The pupae most often range from shiny brown to dark brown. When they newly pupate they are bright brownish orange, but after a few days start to get darker.

The following species are representative species of the Noctuidae moths that have been photographed on the island of Crete. You can obtain more information about each species, by selecting the relative species icon. The list of Noctuidae species is nondefinitive.

List of Noctuidae species in Crete